Saturday, January 19, 2008

Lyrics of the Month

Inspired by Madame, this one is from Black Sabbath's masterpiece Heaven and Hell.

"Sing me a song, you're a singer
Do me a wrong, you're a bringer of evil
The Devil is never a maker
The less that you give, you're a taker"
Tony Iommi really kicks ass handling the guitar, but the real treat is definitely the little guy behind the microphone, Ronnie James Dio. If you want to see more of the little guy here is Holy Diver from his debut album in a brilliant live performance or as a video clip from the early eighties. So do me a wrong...

Wacken 2008

A follow-up to my previous post since I absolutely have to spread the word. This year's Wacken Open Air festival will feature some of the finest Metal bands out there. Alongside Iron Maiden, Opeth, Children of Bodom and Kreator, some long awaited old school-ers are rebanding for a guaranteed quality Metal show, Carcass and At the Gates. La cerise sur le gateau will be the minstrels from Corvus Corax enacting the second part of their Cantus Buranus and the Eurovision song contest winning monsters from Lordi. So be there. Guess who just ordered tickets:)

Is this Metal?

Damn right it is!:) Van Canto are my most interesting discovery in Metal this month. Their style is "Hero-Metal a capella" and they're doing a damn good job especially in the rhythmic section (and also a big thumbs up for the crescendos). It also helps that they realized much earlier than Apocalyptica that they needed a real drummer:) I'm also wondering what the guys in the background could put in their CV, maybe something like "bass guitar in Van Canto, my job was doing taca-ta taca-ta all the time":) All jokes aside, I invite you to listed to their superb offering, The Mission, on YouTube (and if you really want to fall off your chair listen to Rain, they take their music one step further into guitar solos). By the way, they'll be at Wacken this year.

I think this is an interesting example in the discussions we had with Sebi around defining Metal. I wasn't that accurate then, but I'll definitely try to score better very soon in a post on this blog. It's clear that the Metal culture revolves around the music, but while produced music (as well as Metalheads) can come in many various shapes, there is one more thing that keeps everything glued together. To be continued...

Update : OK, these guys are not only good but also extremely funny:))) Here's an excerpt of the definition of their style, Hero-Meta a capella :

"For all those, who are interested in mature men who like to sing „rakkatakka“ through a guitar amplifier, only to imitate fat rhythm guitars"

Generation Hexed

An interesting article on the Hungarian website hvg.eu dealing with the issues of the generation born in 1989, the infamous year of the fall of the Berlin wall and of the anti-communist revolutions in Eastern Europe. In spite of it's relatively messy presentation and some contradictory assertions (like "they spend more time in education" vs. "they come to us with average grades, and most aren't even interested in getting better grades in their final exams" - ok, I see who "they" are in the latter statement, it's unclear who are "they" in the first one), the article draws a rather accurate picture of the generation born in Hungary at the turn of the tide in 1989. The most interesting part is that the same conclusions about this generation can be drawn when referring to the ex-communist neighboring country, Romania.

Fraza zilei

Via Hotnews cu ocazia disputei provocata de delocalizarea Nokia din Germania in Romania.

"lucrul cel mai important intr-o intreprindere nu este castigul, ci oamenii, angajatii" (premierul landului Renania de Nord-Westfalia, Jürgen Ruttgers)
Atentie totusi, afirmatia e scoasa din context. Cu toate astea ma gandesc ce altceva ar putea sa mai contina discursul pe langa pentru ca afirmatia sa nu fie ceea ce pare a fi:) Pentru ca si din perspectiva politicianului preocupat de somaj sau de bunastarea populatiei, tot suna idiot sa declasezi castigul in ordinea prioritatilor unei intreprinderi private. Asta nu inseamna scoaterea de pe lista a preocuparii fata de capitalul uman, dar Nokia nu e institutie de binefacere.

Pentru a va face o parere de ansamblu va invit sa il vizitati pe prietenul Sebi care face referinta la un articol din New York Times despre subiectul pietei libere (marturisesc ca eu inca nu am avut timp sa citesc articolul cu atentie, dar am incredere in parerea celui care il recomanda:)). Protectionismul politicienilor in chestiunea delocalizarilor e calea cea mai usoara si mai directa catre sensibilitatile alegatorilor, dar contraproductiva pe termen mediu si lung. Calea mai lunga si mai dificila ar fi sa puna in practica politici care sa-i stimuleze sa se reorienteze profesional pe salariatii care isi pierd locul de munca datorita delocalizarii, de unde si intrebarea perversa, de ce un politician ar imprumuta a doua cale daca luand-o pe prima stie ca isi maximizeaza sprijinul electoral cu un efort minim.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Cum sa traiesti (in Ardeal sau in presa) si sa nu intelegi nimic

Un articol din Ziua de Cluj semnat Octavian Hoandră (via Rareş Bogdan) despre recentele mişcări din presa locala (încetarea ediţiei EVZ Transilvania) şi cea naţionala (demisia lui Cristian Tudor Popescu din functia de director de la Gandul). In completare un inside despre posibilul motiv al demisiei dlui Popescu (via Rareş Bogdan si Dragoş Novac), orientarea către Internet impusă de Adrian Sârbu şi rezultatele implicite care erau impuse prin această reorientare.

Atât la Cristian Tudor Popescu cât şi la Octavian Hoandră acelaşi simptom, acelaşi raccourci : un ziar cu impact la publicul din România nu poate fi decât un tabloid, ceea ce jurnalistul roman al unui quality newspaper refuză sa facă, considerându-l degradant. Felul acesta de a vedea lucrurile vorbeşte de la sine : jurnalistul roman de felul celor doi amintiţi mai sus nu concepe sau nu cunoaşte o alta metodă de a-si mări audienţa decât prin tabloidizare (înţeleasă în sensul conţinutului, nu al formatului ziarului). E un fel destul de limitat si complet deformat de a înţelege meseria de jurnalist şi rostul unui ziar in vremurile noastre, când adevăratele exemple de "quality newspaper" sunt departe de a lipsi (luam doar New York Times ca exemplu, accesibil tuturor pe Internet). A doua explicaţie ar fi desconsiderarea publicului pe motivul incapacităţii sale de a se adapta nivelului ridicat actual al presei de calitate din România, o poziţie paternalistă cu totul rupta de realitate din moment ce aceeasi presa de calitate este capabilă sa şi-l îndepărteze până si pe cel mai avid consumator de presă din Romania prin luări de poziţie partizane, bălăcire in politicianismul de Dâmboviţa şi fuga după senzaţionalul mediatic (bineînţeles, fiecare publicaţie centrală are excepţiile ei care merită atenţie, dar de la un moment dat excepţiile sunt într-atât de puţine încât nu mai justifică efortul de a vizita ziarul sau a-l cumpăra).

Concluzia e dezarmată. Niciuna dintre cele doua luări de poziţie amintite mai sus nu ia in calcul posibilitatea de a realiza audienţă mergand pe calitate. Iar channel-ul Internet in cazul Gândului e doar un detaliu pentru că şi pe Internet tot content-ul (şi implicit calitatea lui) este cel care primează, iar valorificarea lui în rezultate financiare necesită doar o persoană competentă în ceea ce înseamnă business pe Internet care a putea fi foarte uşor recrutată. Deci poziţia dlui Cristian Tudor Popescu e o scuză slaba dar explicabilă prin câştigul important de imagine din acuzarea unuia dintre "mogulii" presei româneşti in comparaţie cu costul de a debarca într-o pozitie de senior editor în care face mai puţin management dar publică la fel de mult pe un salariu probabil nemodificat. Iar pentru a face referinţă completă la titlul postului, Octavian Hoandră vede in aceste mişcări de presă o neîntelegere a spiritului ardelean civilizat si educat căruia i se refuza o presă de calitate din partea străinului (a celui de România sau a celui de Ardeal). My 2 cents este că în primul rând dlui Hoandră îi lipseşte cu desăvârşire credibilitatea ca jurnalist (vezi acest articol al dansului, via CRU), motiv pentru care nu m-aş obosi sa îi mai citesc vreun articol, iar în al doilea rând autovictimizarea regională şi paternalismul regional nu trebuie confundate cu mândria regională, dovedesc doar un ego demăsurat şi o viziune deformata a realităţii.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Some links for today

  • IMDb's predictions for this year's Oscar Awards. A very nice list of films and actors, definitely better than last year's, comparable with the one in 2006. Even if I haven't seen yet the movie, I definitely share IMDb's dream nomination for the Best Director Award, David Cronenberg for Eastern Promises. Judging by the quality of Cronenberg's previous collaboration with actor Viggo Mortensen, A History of Violence, I think we're in for a great treat. Maybe it's a long shot, but I also hope that Cristian Mungiu's 4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days will be nominated for the Best Foreign Movie Award.
  • A nice - and also fun - analysis (part 1 and part 2) of our national Speedy Gonzales' first major speech on Tuesday using the tag clouds technique. The highlight of the word "civilisation" clearly points out what our president's plans are for the next years of his mandate. Let's see how they turn out, but I think the first step - if managed correctly with a big IF - is not such a bad one - one should have in mind though that the promoter's economics views were at one point quite doubtful. This is also related to the recent Foreign Policy article about teaching economics (biases) in France and Germany (via more than one blogger, but I prefer to link my friend Sebi:) ).
  • Iron Maiden's website has an unusually high page rank in Alexa's top of bands and artists websites, unusual in the sense that it's higher than that of some highly mainstream artists like Metallica, Britney Spears or Linkin Park (via Ryan Holiday). Ryan's conclusions are extremely interesting, but while evaluating them you have to consider the selection bias introduced by Alexa's method of gathering data and the fact that Iron Maiden website's traffic had a very important peak less than 3 months ago - nevertheless it has been in Alexa's top 5 of bands and artists websites during the entire 2007 year. (Nightwish is in a identical situation, see comparative traffics on Alexa). Keeping all this in mind, Internet is a damn good medium for promoting high quality music when the mainstream channels become too mainstream.
  • Immigration flattened the Phillips curve of inflation vs. unemployment in the Spanish economy in the recent years. Similar conclusions stating the benefits of immigration on the economy are expected in France from the Attali commission, which will submit its report on the 23rd of January. It will be particularly interesting to see how the political speech will manage macroeconomic arguments in favor of immigration and the integration factor, a delicate issue in the French public opinion.
  • A rather old news from December 2007, but very interesting. The French Librarians Union won a trial against Amazon.fr for it's no shipment fees policy considered illegal according to the Lang law of 1981. The law establishes a fixed price below which retailers cannot go more than 5% and forbids providing free additional services - which was the case for the Amazon.fr shipment practice. There are more things to say about the union's move than could fit in a few lines of comment. First, people have more different incentives to buy from Amazon than just the price : the diversity and availability of the offer is huge compared to any bookstore in any part of the country, the search-evaluate-and-buy time is minimal and the book is at you door in 48 hours, not to mention that when you live in the countryside buying a book at the nearest bookstore may require more than a few kilometers of driving and a few hours of your spare time. Just as with music, the books consuming model has largely evolved and is now appealing to a wider category of people, those in the business should be aware of that. Second, every book retailer has finally understood what Internet is good for, even the French Librarians Union, so I don't really understand what are their benefits from attacking Amazon.fr except proving that they can tackle the big guy's ankle having an obsolete protectionist law on their side. Third, I myself I am a books loving person, I buy books both from Amazon and from the small bookstore down the street, I just love to find myself wandering for long hours among shelves full of books and just feel their smell, so in certain aspects Amazon will never ever be able to replace a good old fashioned bookstore. So monetize this for example, give people incentives to come to your store, plus as an union you have the largest and fastest distribution network in the whole country. But don't take stupid steps into a direction that is fundamentally opposite to your work.

Good night and good luck:)